When implementing DevOps for the first time, many companies overlook some key aspects that overall could significantly affect the final result.
Some chief executives consider DevOps automation a panacea that can boost any type of project. But is that really true? As you’ve probably guessed, it’s not quite that simple; otherwise, there would be no need to write this article. So, in this blog post, we will talk about the traps and pitfalls that await DevOps-implementing companies on their way to success.
DevOps is by no means a panacea. In reality, it is a fine-tuned tool that allows teams to adjust their work to different projects. If you want to solve your business tasks, a skilled team alone won’t be enough. To succeed, business owners must readjust some processes, including those they participate in, and create their own DevOps strategy.
So, to get the most out of DevOps, avoid the following common mistakes:
1. Changing everything, everywhere, right away
Once business owners get enthusiastic about a new idea, they often try to implement it throughout all spheres. However, it takes time and resources to make changes, especially global ones. You can’t find a good team and expect it to work like clockwork in a couple of days. Moreover, abrupt changes could negatively impact staff.
Solution: In business, haste and large scale can do much harm. So first, try out DevOps in simple projects with small teams. This will allow you to test the new method and make timely adjustments to the strategy if needed. An optimal solution would be to hire an outsource team; this way, you can save costs on taxes and arrangement of workspaces while saving time searching for individual specialists.
2. DevOps toolkit is all you need
There is a perception that DevOps is all about programs and technologies that accelerate development, help automate software creation, testing, and deployment, and reduce the number of bugs in applications. Furthermore, there is a belief that merely acquiring and implementing these tools is enough to guarantee the desired outcome.
As such, project executives use the wrong tools for a project or use them without rebuilding business processes, which makes them unable to achieve the final result.
Solution: Develop a DevOps implementation plan. Before integrating one or any other DevOps tool, consider the following:
- Choose tools primarily based on your business requirements. Each project is unique and requires a tailored approach and a customized toolkit. For example, if Jenkins’ automation tool proved effective in your friend’s project, it does not necessarily mean it will be as good for your business. On the other hand, simple tools are often more effective and convenient than their hyped-up and complex counterparts.
- Integrating a new tool into your business is not enough – you should also make your team ready to work with it. This will require some time and effort from all your staff members. Therefore, you should understand that your employees will probably have to rebuild their workflow, so prepare them for this.
3. Expecting visible working results of DevOps team
To evaluate the efficiency of something, you need data that can be compared to similar data collected in the past. Without this information, you won’t be able to track the dynamics.
The same applies to DevOps. Implementing this method without measuring its main values will probably lead to failure. Business owners won’t be able to understand the success of their DevOps strategy and how timely adjustment of some of its aspects can make it more effective.
Solution: Track the following metrics:
- Time To Market (TTM) is the length of time it takes from the conception of a product to its appearance in the market. When developing a new product, the TTM value should be as low as possible. If you delay the development time, you risk being outrun by your competitors, or the technology may lose its relevance. According to a Gartner survey, 45% of product launches are delayed by at least one month, with on average 20% of them failing to meet their internal targets.
- Lead Time for Changes is the time needed for a team to write, test, and deliver code. The metric demonstrates the speed of deployment. As with the TTM, the lower its value, the better it is for the manufacturer.
- Change Failure Rate indicates the percentage of code changes required after deploying a product to production. It is almost impossible to create an ideal product that works flawlessly immediately after it is released to the market. However, the number of errors will vary in different cases. The fewer errors, the sooner a manufacturer can deliver a product to market.
- Deployment Frequency indicates the number of deployments within a unit of time. For example, once per week or month. The higher this measure is, the better your product performs.
- Mean time to repair (MTTR) is a metric that measures the average time required to troubleshoot a component or recover a system after failure. Effective DevOps reduces this metric.
4. DevOps will make it all
DevOps is a relatively new field. Despite being a popular term, many people still don’t fully understand its meaning. As a result, companies sometimes hire DevOps out of fashion concerns or because it has already proved useful to someone else.
DevOps is a complex initiative, a harmonious combination of development and operation that includes different fields. Some specialists see DevOps as a reconsidered method of Agile development, while others see it as a toolkit for automating applications’ build, deployment and operation. Moreover, each has its own set of tools and experience in the field. As such, DevOps specialists are focused more on development or operations. If you let things run themselves, you risk losing balance in your workflow by favoring one of these trends.
Solution: Clearly define the business objectives that you want to achieve. Ask yourself: what skills should a DevOps specialist have? Will these skills help to improve my project? It is worth spending more time finding the exact person you need rather than hiring the first specialist that comes along or following a friend’s recommendation. An important thing to consider is searching for a specialist willing to learn and master new skills. Such a person can flexibly adjust to your project needs.
5. There is no point in changing documentation methods
DevOps accelerates the development, testing, and deployment of software. Apart from this, DevOps methodology also implies active interaction of different specialists that tap into the same documentation. Therefore, it is important to keep documentation up-to-date and provide efficient communication between DevOps engineers and technical writers when considering the workflow speed.
Solution: With the Continuous Documentation tool, you can simplify your team’s work and accelerate the development process. The tool allows you to synchronize all processes and keep documentation relevant to the state of your code base, allowing for documentation updates each time the code changes.
6. Let’s automate all processes!
Automation helps accelerate development and free up time for more creative tasks. In the race for speed, developers may perform Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery while simultaneously striving to speed up automated testing and receive feedback faster. However, if incorrect and poorly tested code makes its way to production, this can fail all your work.
Solution: Don’t rely on automation only; use it smartly. It is essential to test the code manually throughout all delivery stages, especially before deploying to production. Make sure you receive feedback constantly, as this will help you find bugs and fix the code quickly.
7. A couple of changes? Let’s make them next time
Frequent code updates with manual approval could be an unjustifiably expensive endeavor. It is easier to compile a pack of changes and make them all in one sitting. However, such an approach prevents you from revealing the bugs promptly and delays delivery.
Solution: Ensure your team always reviews code before it goes through each stage of the delivery process. One of the crucial tasks is to eliminate bugs before code makes its way to the end user. To prepare the code for production, arrange a staged environment where developers can deploy and test the software. This way, they can discover bugs and fix the code before it enters the production environment.
8. Speed is the main thing
Modern market players are primarily concerned with creating a product as soon as possible, taking the lead over competitors, and bringing the product to market, becoming an industry leader. However, that is only good enough if product quality is not sacrificed for the sake of release speed. In such a case, the manufacturer risks losing more than just expected profit: if users don’t like the product, it will cast a shadow over the brand’s reputation. Restoring the public image will be more difficult than compensating for financial losses.
Solution: Avoid leaving a large scope of work for the subsequent versions. Professional DevOps teams should not focus entirely on speed: accelerating the development should go hand in hand with quality improvement.
9. Plan B? Why waste time on it?
When you are engaged in creating a new product, you do your best to bring your idea to life as quickly as possible. In this state, it is natural to believe everything will be okay and things will go smoothly from the start. However, creativity – and developing a new product is nothing but creativity – is always fraught with surprises. If you are unprepared for an incident, your work may grind to a halt. The consequences may include downtime at the very least or some major fail at worst.
Solution: Develop a strategy in case something goes wrong and discuss it with people who can help you in an emergency. Talk to your team members; explain that it is essential for you to control all processes to avoid possible mistakes or minimize them. In case of emergency, ask to be informed at once so you can take action immediately. If possible, plan your budget considering the chances of such incidents.
10. DevOps is an IT department business
Some business owners believe that DevOps implementation is solely the work of a dedicated team hired specifically for this purpose. They think their other specialists can continue working normally with the same programs on their routine tasks. However, the point of DevOps is to bring the development and operation teams together and provide for their closest interaction. A company can only move to a new level after introducing new corporate culture and organizing cross-departmental communication.
Solution: If you decide to integrate DevOps into your project, remember that to reach its potential, you need to make your employees accustomed to the new culture and optimize their work.
The best option is to develop an interaction strategy across all your company’s departments. Moreover, before engaging an IT team, start introducing the strategy from the top levels. Otherwise, the DevOps team could become a standalone entity that follows its own rules within your company. Accordingly, the fruits of their labors will be hard to integrate into the general processes, and the other specialists won’t benefit from collaborating with them.
DevOps is an effective tool. When applied wisely, it can accelerate development, organize efficient communication across departments, and provide overall working excellence. Take the courage to withdraw from long-standing models in your workflow, as these small changes will soon pay for themselves, allowing you to steer your business to a new level of efficiency. When implementing DevOps, try to be creative, focus on your project needs, and avoid extremes.